Boozy Berry Lemonade

This cocktail was served at my wedding and so deserves to be the first entry in Liquid Courage. Like all good things, it takes a little bit of before-hand work, and then is easy and forgiving from there on out. Don’t be deterred by making the berry simple syrup, and I actually even like to add a few tablespoons of vinegar to mine to make it more shrub-like. That’s totally optional. To each their own.

Hilariously, the OG version of this cocktail was made with bourbon. When I wrote up this recipe, I was apparently having a very subconscious strong gin inclination, so I made it with gin but still called it a bourbon drink. What a wonderful mistake though, because, turns out, the drink works amazingly well with gin OR bourbon! Pick your poison!!!!

Boozy Berry Lemonade Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz gin OR bourbon
  • 1/2 oz berry simple-syrup-shrub (see below for recipe)
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 oz sparkling water
  • Basil leaf, or rosemary sprig, or mint leaf

Mix the liquor, berry simple-syrup-shrub, and lemon juice on ice. Top with as much sparkling water as pleases you. This drink works well with either basil or rosemary or mint as a garnish. The original wedding version used rosemary, the version here used basil, and I’ve never made it with mint but I bet it’s awesome. Try it and let me know!


Berry simple-syrup-shrub:

  • 1 lb frozen or fresh mixed berries (could be just blackberries, or a mix of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries).
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar (fine, white)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Put the berries, water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally and cook for 15-20 minutes, mashing the berries a bit from time to time to make sure they are releasing all their goodness.

Berry simple syrup (and maybe shrubby-ness) will keep for several weeks to months as you make more cocktails

Remove from heat, let cool (just for your own benefit, if you’re impatient go right ahead), and then strain the liquid and berries through a fine mesh sieve so you end up with just the beautiful juice. You can save/freeze the pulp and put it in smoothies later.

If you want to add vinegar, do so at this point. I’d add a little at a time and taste it to make sure you end up at a sweet-to-acidic ratio that suits your shrub-y personality. This simple syrup will keep for weeks to months in the fridge. If it molds, it’s probably time to throw it out. If it isn’t moldy, it’s great, keep using it.


Concerning berry types….I use the big bags of frozen mixed berries from Costco, but you could use any type of mixed berries – fresh or frozen. If you go the route of a single type of berry, I think blackberries would be most fitting. Raspberries might be too tart and strawberries/blueberries don’t have the right flavor profile by themselves.

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